Chapter 9: Let the Dead Bury Their Dead
The painter started working. Nasruddin said that there was only one condition. “Remember it, don’t forget it: the pearls must be in the painting.” His wife was wearing many pearls and diamonds: they must be there. He’s not worried about the woman - what she looks like in the painting is not the question - but the pearls and the diamonds should be there.
After a while when the painting was ready, the painter brought the painting. Mulla Nasruddin said, “Quite good, quite good. Only one thing: can’t you make the breasts a little smaller and the pearls a little bigger?”
The mind of an exhibitionist, the mind of showing that you have something precious, valuable, the mind of the ego.. The question is not of living in a palace: live in a palace, that’s not the point; or live in a hut or live just by the side of the road, that is not the point. The question is of the ego.
You can be an exhibitionist in a palace; you can be an exhibitionist on the road. If your mind is wanting somebody to know that you possess something, or have renounced something, then you are in a deep darkness that has to be broken.
Jesus says that one should not be attached and one should not look backwards. Looking back is an old habit with the human mind; you go on looking back. Either you look back or you look in the future - and this is how you miss the present.
The present is divine. The past is dead memory; the future is just hope, fiction. Reality is only in the present. That reality is God, that reality is the kingdom of God.
Jesus said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Just this is to be understood; nothing else has to be done. Just listen to me: you know well that the past is past; it is no more, nothing can be done about it. Don’t go on ruminating about it, wasting time and energy. That rumination about the past creates a screen around you and you cannot see that which is already here.
You have been missing it, and it has become a habit. Whenever you are sitting, you are thinking about the past. Become aware! I’m not saying to try to stop it, because if you try to stop it you will still be engaged with it. I am saying: be disengaged with it!
So what will you do? - because whatsoever you do will be an engagement with it. You just have to be aware. When the past starts coming in the mind just relax, quiet yourself, still yourself. Just remain alert, not even verbalization is needed. Just know that the past is gone; there is no use chewing over it again and again.
People use the past as a chewing gum; they go on chewing it. Nothing comes out of a gum - it is not nutritious, it is just futile - but just through the exercise of the mouth one feels good. Just the exercise of the mind and one feels as if one is doing something worthwhile.